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Shockers set to play TCU, potential rematch with Nebraska in NCAA Tournament

Wichita+State+celebrates++during+the+final+moments+of+Saturday+night%E2%80%99s+home+game.+WSU+will+face+TCU+in+the+first+round+of+the+NCAA+Tournament+in+Lincoln%2C+Nebraska+on+Friday.+
Wichita State celebrates  during the final moments of Saturday night’s home game. WSU will face TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday.

Wichita State celebrates during the final moments of Saturday night’s home game. WSU will face TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday.

Wichita State celebrates during the final moments of Saturday night’s home game. WSU will face TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday.

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When Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri were listed as No. 5-16 seeds, Wichita State volleyball players had a slight grin on their faces. None of them expected a potential rematch with the overall No. 1 seed of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.

The room was filled with surprise as the Shockers’ name was called early in Sunday’s Selection Show as the team is set to play TCU Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Lincoln, Nebraska.

WSU faced Nebraska at last year’s NCAA Tournament, where they lost 3-0 in the second round after defeating Kansas State 3-1.

“It was definitely interesting (being revealed early), but we’re excited to take on TCU,” senior outside hitter Jody Larson said. “I think it’s a good matchup for us and it’s another Big 12 team like we played last year against K-State (last year).”

Experience will play in the Shockers favor as WSU has seven players that played both NCAA tournament games last year. Senior middle blocker Katy Dudzinski played in one set in the second round loss to Nebraska.

Junior setter Emily Hiebert combined for 90 assists in WSU’s two NCAA Tournament games and junior middle blocker Abbie Lehman led the Shockers with 30 combined kills.

“Being apart of that and getting experience with that last year is going to help a lot,” Hiebert said.

TCU received an at-large bid into the tournament and was one six teams from the Big 12 to be selected in the 64-team field. The Horned Frogs finished the season with a 14-12 record with a 7-9 record in conference play.

WSU and TCU share four opponents: Creighton, Iowa State, Texas and Texas Tech. TCU lost to Creighton and Texas twice and split the season series with Iowa State along. The Horned Frogs swept the season series with Texas Tech.

Sara Mikals leads the Horned Frogs averaging 2.10 kills per set, with TCU hitting .224 on the season compared to their opponents of .226. Jillian Bergeson leads TCU’s defense averaging 3.69 digs per set.

WSU (24-7) heads into Friday’s match on a nine-game winning streak and claimed the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Missouri State.

“All you’re trying to do is advance,” Lamb said. “We played great this last weekend. We’ll take a strong look at what we did well…I already know of a few things that are going to need some attention and we’ll try to find out what we need to do to prepare for the Horned Frogs.”

Even though the Shockers got placed in a bracket with the top-seeded Cornhuskers, Lamb admitted that Nebraska’s volleyball environment made it an exciting experience to be apart of.

“Of all the places you can go, regardless of whether you like your matchup or not, part of this for me is the overall experience for the kids,” Lamb said. “You go to Nebraska for a tournament, you know you’re in (the NCAA) tournament. It doesn’t get more professional, doesn’t get more real than Lincoln.”

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